My kids love going to camp. Okay, maybe my three-year old has had enough, but the older two love it. And who can blame them. Hanging out with kids your age, playing crazy indoor/outdoor games, going on field trips to the ball game or bowling or Science Center. I’m not a big fan on repeating my youth but sometimes when I think of summer camp, I don’t know, maybe.
We’ve been lucky enough to have great leaders at our local city programs. They really care about the kids and come up with some cool ideas to keep them occupied (unlike mom camp which is full of ‘clean your room’ or ‘read quietly until I get this project done’).
This year my eight-year old tried a new camp, a swim camp, at the community center where the kids take their swimming lessons. This is a program that combines working on swim skills but has the fun game/field trip aspect of a traditional camp. She wanted to go, really. I didn’t force it on her.
Today is the half-way point to her camp (it’s two weeks long). She seems to enjoy it but isn’t as enthusiastic about it as other camps. So I had to ask:
ME: So are you enjoying the swim camp?
8YO: Oh yah, sure. It’s lots of fun.
ME: Great. Should we plan this camp again next year?
8YO: Ah, no. I don’t think I would want to do it again.
ME: Why? You don’t like the program? The kids?
8YO: No the kids are okay. The camp is fun too.
ME: [not sure what to say. Clearly I’m confused about why she doesn’t want to attend but the pause worked in my favour because…]
8YO: The counselor aren’t very friendly. I mean they’re friendly, to each other. They don’t really talk to the kids much.
I don’t know why I am surprised by this comment. The same counselors that run the day camp also run the swim lessons and to be honest there is a lot of flirting among instructors that goes on during the lessons. At first it bugged me. I mean my child is there, for your guidance, correct your focus. But actually the instructors (most of them) are really good with lessons; my kids’ swimming skills have greatly increased because of it and we will continue to go there this fall. But outside the pool things are different.
Some people may like that the counselors keep to themselves, only being there to guide the kids. My kids like the interaction, with both kids and adults, especially my oldest. I may be a mom but I remember what it was like to be young and single and flirtatious, I don’t begrudge the kids those feelings, but stow it until after camp.
So I’m pulling my daughter from her second week of swim camp and moving her into the regular summer camp. It’s closer to our house and the camp counselor/kid dynamic is completely different (we’ve been going there for a few years).
Before transferring my daughter out of the camp, I thought I should explain my decision to the co-ordinator versus just not showing up all next week. I’m the type of person who wants to know why you don’t like something (or do like something). If I was running the camp I would want to know, wouldn’t you?
The woman was very polite, listening to me. She tried to explain that what I was interpreting as flirting was just friendliness; that all the camp leaders know each other from high school. I think it’s great that the kids know each other; I think that comfort adds to the overall camp dynamic. But flirty behaviour and friendly behaviour are different, obviously different, at least to me. I told her it was completely my perspective and others might not see this behaviour as a negative (as I’m sure some of you reading this might think that way). That’s fine but my only concern is my kids and camp should be a fun and focused on the kids.
I don’t think the woman I spoke to took what I said to heart and I’m okay with that. I don’t expect expect the behaviour of the camp leaders will change because of the concerns I raised. Perhaps you think I’m over reacting. So be it. The only change that matters is my daughter will have a fantastic last week of camp with a group she really enjoys. That’s the important thing, to me.